Millennium Challenge Corporation approves $524 million compact with Côte d’Ivoire
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Board of Directors in its quarterly meeting has approved a $524 million compact with the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire to spur economic growth and reduce poverty.
The program will support the country’s long-term drive to diversify its economy through investments in the education and transport sectors. MCC’s Board also expressed its support for a proposed threshold program with Togo and approved the annual Selection Criteria and Methodology Report for FY 2018.
“I am pleased to announce the MCC Board of Directors’ approval of the Côte d’Ivoire Compact,” Acting MCC CEO Jonathan Nash said. “Côte d’Ivoire exemplifies ‘the MCC Effect’ − MCC’s ability to drive reform even before a dollar of U.S. taxpayer money is spent.”
After passing only five of 20 policy indicators in 2013, the Government of Côte d’Ivoire adopted MCC’s scorecard as its roadmap for reform. After Côte d’Ivoire passed MCC’s scorecard in 2015, MCC’s Board of Directors selected the country as eligible to develop a compact.
Côte d’Ivoire, a regional economic hub in West Africa, struggled with political instability and economic decline throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Since 2012, political stability has allowed the economy to recover from years of stagnation, with the country now averaging a 9 percent increase in GDP growth in each of the past five years. Despite this recovery, the poverty rate stood at 46.3 percent in 2015.
MCC and the Government of Côte d’Ivoire conducted a joint economic analysis to identify projects that would address two of the greatest constraints to growth in the country: low availability of skilled workers, and challenges to moving goods and people, especially in Abidjan, the nation’s economic crossroads. The investment was designed to support economic growth and private investment by building workforce capacity, reducing transportation costs, and opening new markets, benefitting the region and firms looking to expand their businesses.
The Skills for Employability and Productivity Project will increase access to secondary education and support the construction of up to 84 new secondary schools along with teacher training. It will also help the government formalize a national gender policy to mitigate gender disparities, improving outcomes for girls in the education system.
Through a public-private partnership, a new technical and vocational education training (TVET) model will advance development of in-demand skills that businesses need.
The Abidjan Transport Project is designed to reduce transport costs and improve efficiencies for households and businesses. The project aims to rehabilitate roads in and around the port area, while improving road network management and maintenance. The Government of Côte d’Ivoire is expected to contribute an additional $22 million to support the compact.
In addition, MCC briefed the Board on the development of the Togo Threshold Program. The Board expressed its support for the far-reaching, ambitious reforms to which the Government of Togo has committed with MCC assistance in the critically important areas of information and communications technology (ICT) and land tenure.
Recent events in Togo underscore the importance of these reforms for the country to continue on its path toward a more open and inclusive society with a market-oriented, private sector-led economy to benefit all Togolese citizens.
In the coming weeks, MCC will proceed with negotiations toward finalizing the threshold program grant agreement with the Government of Togo. Following these negotiations, MCC will seek Board authorization for the final threshold program. As negotiations progress and prior to signing the grant agreement, MCC will closely monitor events and seek assurances of firm commitment to respect of citizens’ political rights and civil liberties.
The threshold program is MCC’s smaller grant program designed to engage with countries that have demonstrated a commitment to improving their policy performance, but do not yet meet MCC’s strict eligibility criteria for larger compact investments.
The $35 million program is designed to achieve two objectives: first, to improve access to high quality, affordable information and communication technology services for all Togolese; and second, to increase access to formalized land by legitimizing customary land rights and expanding inclusive access to land. Togo was selected by MCC’s Board of Directors as eligible to develop a threshold program in December 2015.
MCC’s Board of Directors also approved the annual Selection Criteria and Methodology Report for Fiscal Year 2018, which explains how the Board will identify, evaluate, and determine country eligibility for MCC assistance in December.